Friday, September 30, 2011

Book Blogger Hop (9/30-10/3)

The book blogger hop is a fun weekly meme, hosted by Crazy for Books, that is a great way for bloggers to get to know each other. This week's question is:

“In honor of Banned Books Week, what is your favorite “banned or frequently challenged book”?”

I love a lot of banned/challenged books! I always make sure to tell my students if books were challenged because that usually makes them more interested in reading them. Some that I like just from this year's list are The Hunger Games, Speak, and Forever in Blue. Books on the list in the past that I like are the Harry Potter series, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Golden Compass series, and Fahrenheit 451.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday (9/27)

Top Ten Tuesday is brought to us by the Broke and the Bookish and I absolutely love it, because who doesn't love making lists? 

Today's topic: Top ten books I want to reread. Great topic, because I reread books all the time! The first few are books I have already reread, then I delve into ones that I need to reread for the first time.

1. The Little House on the Prairie series, specifically These Happy Golden Years- I just plain love this book and adore/am obsessed with the whole series.
2. The Harry Potter series, especially from Azkaban until the end- Azkaban is probably my favorite of the series and Sirius is my favorite character. What I need to do is reread Deathly Hallows again.
3. Pride and Prejudice- Read it a few times; love it and the movie versions. I need to read more Jane Austen. Sidenote: My college offered a Jane Austen class and I tried SO HARD to get into it, but I never did :(
4. Any Shakespeare- I hated Shakespeare in high school and college, then I became a teacher and now teach Romeo and Juliet to 9th graders every year. I have grown to love it, honestly, and I need to read more of his plays and reread the ones I "read" in high school and college: Hamlet, A Winter's Tale, Macbeth, Othello, Much Ado About Nothing, Julius Caesar, King Lear, etc.
5. The Golden Compass series- I read these as a teen and I'd love to reread them to see if I still love them...but there are so many new books to read!
6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower- I read it and loved it in middle school and I keep hearing about how people love it (still!), so rereading would be nice.
7. Brave New World- I read it in senior English and I would like to reread it since I am loving dystopian right now. I don't remember much about it, probably because I was itching to graduate and leave high school behind.
8. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn-I read this a couple years ago and didn't love it like everyone else seems to. I think a reread is in order.
9. A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley- This is a modern retelling of King Lear that I need to reread. I got about halfway through and quit, but I think now that I like Shakespeare more, I should give this one another shot.
10. The Time Traveler's Wife- I loved it when I read it for the first time and with all books I love, I want to reread to find out if I still love it!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Book Blogger Hop (9/24-9/27)

The Book Blogger Hop is run by the wonderful Crazy for Books. I love it and think it's a great way to find blogs and get to know other bloggers! This week's question is:
"As a blog reader, what information (besides the book review) do you like to see in other bloggers’ reviews of books? (For example – Author bio, social media links, book synopsis from Amazon/Goodreads or one written by the blogger, page count, ISBN number, link to purchase, etc.)"

Great question and definitely one that I struggle with when I am trying to decide what information to include in my reviews! Other than the review, I like to see the book cover and a synopsis from either Amazon or Goodreads (no preference for either one). Page count and all that doesn't really concern me since, for me at least, the length doesn't normally effect my enjoyment of the book. I never thought about wanting to see social media links, but now I realize that I did put Maureen Johnson's twitter link on my review of The Name of the Star because she is so hilarious and entertaining. I guess other than the odd social media link, I really just want to see a synopsis and the cover!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door

Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publish date: Sept. 29, 2011
Source: ARC from store closing sale
"Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion...she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood. 
When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door." (from Goodreads)

I decided a few weeks ago that I was going through a contemporary slump: I was immediately bored when I tried to start reading contemporary romances, they all seemed the same, etc. I kept reading reviews for Lola, though, which everyone thought was the bee's knees. When I was at the Borders HQ sale last week, they were basically giving ARCs away, so I thought, hey, I'll give Lola a shot and if I don't like it, to the classroom library it goes. 

Well...this book was delightful and adorable and wonderful. Stephanie Perkins is a fantastic writer. I have not read Anna and the French Kiss so I wasn't sure what to expect, but I loved her writing style and her characters. Sometimes Lola would think in all caps, which I truly believe my mind does as well (not to mention I include all caps in my writing frequently). I really think Ms. Perkins captured the drama and "this is so importantness" of teenage life because that is exactly how I felt at that age. And the conversations near the end that Lola and Max had? I have had similar accusations thrown at me near the end of relationships, of doing things I did not do, so it really felt like the author was in my head and it was CREEPY (but in a good way?).

Essentially, this book was awesome. All the details made it great: Lola's dads, Lindsey, Lola's costumes, and CRICKET. Oh Cricket, I adore you. Read this book!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Review: Wither

Author: Lauren Destefano
Publish date: March 2011
Source: Library
"Obviously, something went terribly wrong. Genetic mutations have festered, reducing human longevity to twenty-five, even less for most women. To prevent extinction, young girls are kidnapped, mated in polygamous marriages with men eager to procreate. Sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery, a recent victim of this breeding farm mentality, has vowed to break loose from its fetters; but finding allies and a safe way out is a challenge she can only hope she will survive." (from Goodreads)

Well. Hmm. I'm not sure how to start this review. I guess I will say this: I really really wanted to love Wither. I've been on a dystopian kick lately, having recently read Delirium and Divergent, and I was hoping that I would love this one as much, but I didn't. That is not to say that Lauren DeStefano is a bad writer; to the contrary, I thought the writing style was the best part of the book.

The plot sounds very intriguing: in the future, due to a terrible virus, females only live until age 20 and males to age 25. Because of this, girls are married off young, often to husbands that they do not even know, let alone love. The main character, Rhine, has that happen to her. She is sent to live with Linden with two other sister wives. I thought that the story would pick up once this happened, but for me, it didn't. There was never that "unputdownable" feeling. I felt like there were too many loose plot lines and many aspects of the future society were left unexplained. I want to know more about the virus; more about those who are not wealthy; more about Gabriel, who I thought was one of the best parts of the story. 

I will probably read the next book in the series, Fever, to see if any of my questions are answered. It wasn't a bad book: I just neither loved it nor hated it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Book Blogger Hop (9/16-9/19)

Book Blogger Hop time! As always, the hop is brought to us by Crazy for Books. This week's question is: 

As a book blogger, how do you introduce yourself in your profile?

Honestly, I love looking at people's profiles on their blogs, so it took me a while to decide what to put in mine. I finally decided to explain first of all that I am a girl (my name is Kyle, so everyone usually assumes I am a dude) and then what my job is. Hopefully knowing that I am a teacher can kind of explain 1) part of the reason I enjoy reading so much and 2) why I post much less during the school year. All that pesky grading and planning gets in the way of reading, sadly.

In profiles, I just like learning a bit about the blogger and what kinds of books they like, so that's how I concluded mine. Hopefully I don't come off sounding too weird! Profiles/About Me sections are your own, so do what you want!

Happy Friday and Happy Reading!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Review: Delirium

Author: Lauren Oliver
Publish date: February 2011
Source: Library
"Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy. 

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.
" (from Goodreads)

There was a lot of hype around this look and guess what? Believe it. This book was awesome. I'd been looking forward to reading it for a while and it finally came in at the library for me last week. After I got a couple chapters in, I was hooked, but due to unforeseen circumstances, I wasn't able to finish it until tonight. Did not disappoint.

Lauren Oliver has such a lovely writing style. Her writing was full of figurative language: lots of metaphors, similes, personification, etc. Maybe it's the English teacher in me, but I just loved all of it. It made her writing so poetic and just beautiful to read and really helped describe the setting and world of Delirium. I also really loved how the author described falling in love. It was amazing to "watch" a character go from thinking love was a disease to actually falling in love and discovering what it was about. Ms. Oliver used such great language to describe those almost unexplainable sensations that you experience while falling love. Just perfect. I loved it. 

To conclude: read this book! Yes, it's YA dystopian, but so much more than that! The writing style is fantastic and I already can't wait for Pandemonium.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Musing Monday (3)

This week's Musing Monday asks:

What is the one (or maybe two) qualities a book must have for you to pass it along to your best friend as a “must-read?”

Great question! For me, it's the "not able to put down" factor, which can happen in both fiction and nonfiction. A book can make me want to keep reading in a number of ways: interesting story lines, crazy plot twists, great characters, laugh out loud moments, etc. I know I'm cheating by including everything as one factor, but I can't pick just one!

The last fiction book that I absolutely could not put down was Divergent, which I wholeheartedly recommend to those who like dystopian lit. My review of it is basically me gushing about how much I loved it and how the story line just kept grabbing me and holding my attention. The last few nonfiction books I've read were also hard to put down: The Wilder Life, Into the Wild, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Book Blogger Hop (9/9-9/12) and Book Beginnings (9/9)

Book Blogger Hop time! Last week was my first one and I loved it, so here I am again! As always, the hop is brought to us by Crazy for Books. This week's question is: 

“Many of us primarily read one genre of books, with others sprinkled in. If authors stopped writing that genre, what genre would you start reading? Or would you give up reading completely if you couldn’t read that genre anymore?”

Interesting question! I'm honestly not even sure what I primarily read anymore; I used to adore YA contemporary, but I think I'm growing out of it. Lately I have found myself loving both adult and YA dystopian, sci fi/fantasy, and historical fiction (although I have always loved that one). I've also read some really great nonfiction recently.

Anyway, my answer: I would never stop reading, but if my favorite genre(s) disappeared, I would probably read more mystery/suspense books. I've read a few and while I enjoy them, I never seem to seek out more. I also have tons of classics left that I want and need to read, so I suppose I'd throw those in there too with the mystery/suspense.

Book Beginnings is a great meme I just discovered, hosted on Fridays by A Few More Pages.  You basically share the first line or two from the book you are currently reading and then discuss if you like them! Love it. I'll kinda sorta break the rules and write the lines from two books.

1. I just started Delirium by Lauren Oliver last night and am enjoying it so far. The first line is:
"It has been sixty-four years since the president and the Consortium identified love as a disease, and forty-three since the scientists perfected a cure."
I love it because it immediately grabbed my attention and I knew that I needed to keep reading. Love as a disease? Love is gone? There's a cure? What the what? I'm thinking Delirium will be one of those read in a day or two kind of books. Glad it's the weekend!

2. I reviewed Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer here a few weeks ago, and I'm including the first line here because my junior English class started reading it on Thursday. I read the Author's Note aloud to the class and we stopped after the first two sentences to discuss them:
"In April 1992, a young man from a well-to-do East Coast family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness of Mt. McKinley. Four months later his decomposed body was found by a party of moose hunters."
My students loved how open and honest it was. They knew right then that the young man did not survive and they knew that the book would track his journey to his death. We talked about why Krakauer just lays it all out in two sentences and about how it made them want to keep reading. I love it because, well, they wanted to keep reading! Great, tragic story.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

WWW Wednesday (1)

To play along with WWW Wednesday, hosted by Should Be Reading, you answer the following questions:

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading? That's a great question! Technically...nothing. I tried and failed to get into a couple over the past few days, but they just didn't click. The Poisonwood Bible is sitting on my floor, begging to be read, though. I know I should read it, but I don't know if I'm motivated enough at the moment. I think I'm in a sci fi/fantasy mood!

What did you recently finish reading? I finished The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Pairie by Wendy McClure. Fantastic and hilarious. Required reading for Little House fans.

What do you think you’ll read next? According to my online account, my copies of Wither by Lauren DeStefano and Delirium by Lauren Oliver are en route to my library location for pick up by yours truly. They better be. I'm dying to read both and received an email yesterday saying Delirium was in, but when I went to get it, they couldn't find it. Major sad face. 

Any recommendations if I'm in the mood for sci fi/fantasy? I'm not a fan of vampire/werewolf books, but I do enjoy other "this could never happen in real life" stories. I'm also a dystopian fan (in case you couldn't tell).

Monday, September 5, 2011

Review: The Wilder Life

Author: Wendy McClure
Publish date: April 2011
Source: Library
"Wendy McClure is on a quest to find the world of beloved Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder-a fantastic realm of fiction, history, and places she's never been to, yet somehow knows by heart. She retraces the pioneer journey of the Ingalls family- looking for the Big Woods among the medium trees in Wisconsin, wading in Plum Creek, and enduring a prairie hailstorm in South Dakota. She immerses herself in all things Little House, and explores the story from fact to fiction, and from the TV shows to the annual summer pageants in Laura's hometowns. Whether she's churning butter in her apartment or sitting in a replica log cabin, McClure is always in pursuit of "the Laura experience." Along the way she comes to understand how Wilder's life and work have shaped our ideas about girlhood and the American West.

The Wilder Life is a loving, irreverent, spirited tribute to a series of books that have inspired generations of American women. It is also an incredibly funny first-person account of obsessive reading, and a story about what happens when we reconnect with our childhood touchstones-and find that our old love has only deepened." (from Goodreads)

Let's get this out of the way first: I was and am obsessed with Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House books. My mom bought me the set when we were on a family vacation in Florida, probably because I was whining about having nothing to read. She had no idea what she had created by giving me those innocent little books. I was hooked. I wanted to know Laura. I wanted to be Laura. I wanted to live in the 1800s. I remember even writing a letter to her and sleeping with it under my pillow. Why? I have no idea. Maybe I thought she would magically write back because, you know, she's Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I wanted everything to do with that family and that series of books (and nothing to do with the TV show because, hello, it was all wrong and stupid and WRONG).

When I was 12, we took a family road trip out west and on the drive home (to Michigan), my obnoxious and ever-observant self noticed that we were starting to see signs for De Smet, SD, which is where the Ingalls family finally settled down. I relayed this info to my parents, who didn't really say anything back. This upset me, because I thought maybe we could stop there on the way home. Pre-teen Kyle was bummed. BUT, but, then my parents surprised me and we took a detour to De Smet so I could relive my obsession. Unfortunately, it was a Sunday so most things were closed, but we got to see some buildings and the cemetery where Ma, Pa, Mary, Carrie, and Grace are buried (Laura is in Missouri). I was elated.

Anyway, the point is I have always loved those books. When I heard about The Wilder Life, I knew I had to read it and it didn't disappoint. Wendy McClure is a hilarious writer and throughout the entire book, I was either laughing, or thinking "SHE IS ME." She and others that she discusses are also in love with these books and people and know all the tiny, intricate details that I do. It was interesting to read about what she thought of all the sites that she visited, including each place the Ingallses lived in the books, and a few that are not mentioned. She jumped around a little bit within chapters, which could be confusing, but it was mostly interesting and for me, fascinating. She also mentions many other books that have been written about LIW, a few of which I plan on reading because I want to know more about the REAL Laura, not the slightly fictionalized Laura and co. that we've all read about.

This is not a book that you should read unless you are a big LIW fan. There are lots of little details that have only peaked my interest/obsession again and now I'm ready to take a road trip to visit all the sites that she wrote about. I would especially like to visit Mansfield, MO, and check out De Smet again, since I had so little time there before. Who's coming with me?!?!?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Book Blogger Hop!

The Book Blogger Hop is of course brought to us by Crazy for Books. This week's question is:

“What are you most looking forward to this fall/autumn season – A particular book release? Halloween? The leaves changing color? Cooler temperatures? A vacation? (If your next season is other than fall/autumn, tell us about it and what you are most looking forward to in your part of the world!)”

Let's see...I am definitely looking forward to November because my best friend and I are heading to Washington, D.C., for a long weekend to visit our other friend who teaches there. I also have another friend from college who just moved there, so I'll get to see her too! I haven't been to D.C. in at least 15 years, so I am really looking forward to it. It'll be a nice break from teaching and I love traveling.

I'm also looking forward to cooler weather. It was a hot, hot summer here in Michigan and I can't wait to wear jeans and hoodies/sweaters outside instead of shorts and tank tops while dripping with sweat (you're welcome for that visual). And of course, there will definitely be bonfires! My favorite!

Anything you are looking forward to?